Culver Building Permit Fees

Sometimes it takes an outside voice to change things… Rob Hurford with Culver Storage Unit Solutions came before Culver Plan Commission on October 17th to request relief from permit fees on their project. They are building mini storage units on the property west of The Paddocks.

Around 2017/2018, Jonathan Leist, then Culver Town Manager, spearheaded increased building permit fees. The increases were based on what was being charged in larger surrounding areas rather than the cost of services rendered. I protested this at the time, saying they were punitive, unreasonable and comparable fees had been cherry-picked to justify high fees… I was mostly ignored with the argument being presented that the building permit fee was still such a small part of the overall project cost for lake houses and commercial structures that it would not stop construction. I argued that wasn’t the point! The money collected does not go to the plan commission, but to the town’s general fund, i.e. it was a money maker, not a service fee.

The permit fees for the storage unit project were over $17,000. That was partially because the County was requiring each building to be permitted separately, rather than looking at the project as a whole, but also because Culver piled on. These are simple. single story, pole building construction with no water or sewer hook-ups. There will be minimal electrical for lighting. That means that Marshall County’s Building Inspector will have very little to look at and Culver’s Building Commissioner can almost do his job looking at setbacks with a drive-by…

Bass Lake Storage

Mr. Hurford is the Building Inspector for Warsaw, IN. He said in Warsaw, the permit fees would amount to 6% of the Culver fee. They have completed these projects in Winamac and Bass Lake and fees there were less than 15% of the Culver fee.

Culver’s Building Commissioner, Steve Gorski, did a review of permit fees based on costs and has provided the plan commission with revised numbers. These changes were passed on first read and were used to lower the fee for the project to $9k. Still high (and still inflated by the County in my opinion), but much better than the original $17k.

The forlorn fire hydrant that was removed from Sand Hill Farm Apartments

I’m pleased to see that the Plan Commission is taking steps to correct this one. It ultimately falls on the Town Council to make the Ordinance change. Hopefully they follow through. There are other, regressive, junk fees the town charges that don’t reflect services rendered, i.e. private fire hydrants, private fire sprinkler systems, etc. Hopefully this will prompt a review of some of these fees as well.

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